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Paula Abdul Accuses 'American Idol' Producer Nigel Lythgoe of Sexual Assault in Lawsuit


Photo above Courtesy of 20thCentFox/Everett Collection

Story by Miguel A. Melendez with ET


Paula Abdul has filed a lawsuit against Nigel Lythgoe, claiming that the American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance producer sexually assaulted her on two occasions.


According to court documents obtained by ET filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the GRAMMY winner claims the first alleged incident happened during one of American Idol's "initial seasons." Abdul was one of the original judges on the singing competition series from 2002 to 2009, alongside Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.


In court documents, Abdul, 60, claims Lythgoe, 74, assaulted her in an elevator when he "shoved [her] against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts and began shoving his tongue down her throat." She claims she "attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know that his behavior was not acceptable." 


After the alleged assault, Abdul claims she informed her reps about it but chose not to take action out of "fear that Lythgoe would have her fired from American Idol." 

Lythgoe staunchly denied the allegations in a statement to ET on Saturday.


"To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement," Lythgoe stated. "For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear – and entirely platonic – friends and colleagues. Yesterday, however, out of the blue, I learned of these claims in the press and I want to be clear: not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for."


"While Paula's history of erratic behavior is well known, I can't pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue," Lythgoe's statement concluded. "But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have."


Abdul also claimed that she was "discriminated against in terms of compensation and benefits compared to one of the show's male judges and the host," while also being "the target of constant taunts, bullying, humiliation and harassment" as a judge on the hit series.


Abdul claims Lythgoe sexually assaulted her again in 2015 when she was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, this time at his home where she was invited to dinner "believing this to be a professional invitation." But Abdul claims Lythgoe "forced himself on top of Abdul while she was seated on his couch and attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent power couple."


The "Opposites Attract" singer claims she pushed him off and told him she was not interested in his advances and left his home. That same year, Abdul claims she also witnessed Lythgoe sexually assault one of her assistants identified as April in court documents.


"One evening, Lythgoe approached Abdul and April from behind, pressed himself up against April and began to grope her," the lawsuit stated. "April did not consent."

Abdul is also suing the production companies behind the shows, which Lythgoe produced until 2014. She stated in the lawsuit that she did not speak out about the claims for fear of retaliation. She's suing Lythgoe and the production companies for sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence.


In a statement to ET, Abdul's lawyers, Johnson & Johnson, LLP, spoke about the performer suing under the California law AB 2777, also known as the Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act.

"AB 2777 was passed with the express purpose of giving voice to survivors of sexual abuse who had been pressured, coerced, or otherwise deterred from holding their abusers to account in the pre-MeToo era," the statement shared. "We are proud to help provide Ms. Abdul with access to the courts and a megaphone for her story to be told."


"Ms. Abdul should be commended for the immense courage required to take action against the type of abuse that was inflicted upon her, particularly when the alleged abuser is a figure so dominant in her profession," the statement continued. "It was clearly a difficult decision to make, but Ms. Abdul knows that she stands both in the shoes and on the shoulders of many other similarly situated survivors, and she is determined to see that justice is done."



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